Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Fuji Rock Festival 2017 Part 2: Friday

On Friday morning, the first official day of the festival, we went in a group of 7 up the Dragondola – the 20-minute mountain gondola that gives you a view of the entire festival site -  up to the Day Dreaming and Silent Breeze area.

On the Dragondola

At the Day Dreaming and Silent Breeze stage

The first act I wanted to catch that day was Rag-N-Bones Man. A rapper/singer from Brighton, UK with an incredible soul voice. He was a very satisfying and enjoyable opening act. We watched him at the mainstage, the Green Stage, where we parked our chairs for the day and chilled out. We also caught some of the Radwimps - a J-pop band who did the soundtrack for the 君の名は film. I thought it would be crap, but it was actually a good performance and I'm kind of glad to have been able to see some live J-pop that didn't make me want to throw up.

As Matt only had a one-day pass, we figured we would spend the day exploring and trying to see as much of the site as possible. We made it all the way to the Field of Heaven, before an intense downpour struck. I started freaking out a little, as I thought that would be it for the remainder of our time there – but luckily it passed and we were able to watch Father John Misty in peace (and love). He put on a great set, and I was glad to have discovered his music a few months prior to watching his live performance. The guy was charming, talented and highly entertaining. I don’t usually care much for lyrics, but I certainly have time to listen to his. His honest insights are really refreshing.

The main problem for Friday was the insane scheduling with QOTSA and Gorillaz. I had been anticipating this issue for weeks beforehand. As my favourite band of all time, it was imperative for me to be there to support QOTSA. However, I had seen them before, and knew that Gorillaz on the mainstage would be an unmissable show.  Chez had decided to go to the Green Stage beforehand, relax and check out The XX. Matt hung back with me to get a good spot for the opening of QOTSA at the White Stage. 

Catfish and the Bottlemen were playing the White Stage first, I was curious to hear their music as some of the people in our group had made a point to leave Father John Misty early to catch their full set. It didn't take long for me and Matt to agree that they were completely awful, and their music was way too rubbish to stand through, so with time to kill, we sat by the river and had some beers and a giggle.
We bumped into the band of Rag-N-Bones man and were able to complement their uplifting performance that we had seen earlier that day. It feels good to give a compliment where deserved.  
We also irritated some snobby Americans in an incident over some nori at a ramen booth, but its not worth delving into.

When QOTSA came on, I cried – naturally – and danced and sang like a crazy person for the start of their set, and then after around 40 minutes or so we decided to make a B-line for the Green Stage. We had anticipated getting stuck in crowds for a very long time, so we were diligent in working our way through to the Gorillaz.

Amazingly, we only missed a small portion of their set and had moved between the two stages within record timing (about 5 minutes I’d say). We found our seats easily and joined Chez and the others in watching a really amazing show. They played all the old hits and some new ones. I didn’t really dig the new album when I gave it a try a few weeks ago – but watching the tracks played live lead me to reevaluate my opinion. Each song was done really well, as expected, a great choir, musicians and visuals. The Gorillaz live is everything you would hope it to be and I’m glad I saw them. Damon Albarn was full of energy and was a superb front man, he had a great command over the crowd and really hyped us all up. He, in particular, really exceeded my expectation. 

Still…. I felt that I could have caught a little more of QOTSA. I thought I was satisfied in the moment, but upon reflection I wish I had stayed for a couple more tracks.  I felt bad that the crowd was thinning during QOTSA’s set. I can’t believe how poorly the scheduling was. How can they overlap two major acts like that?

Getting back to The XX, apparently they were terrible. Their two performers were making arrogant higher-than-god remarks to the audience in between songs. Nothing insulting, just pure cockiness. They came off as “assholes”, according to live witnesses. As for myself, I wasn’t really fussed to see The XX, I never have been, and found their new album to be a bit “meh”. I’ll also state that I am a fan of the solo stuff Jamie XX has put out so far. In contrast, I love Blur and the Gorillaz, but really didn’t dig Damon Albarn’s solo album. You see, you just can never tell with these things.

Check out my Fuji Rock 2017 Playlist on Spotify:

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